There are so many perceptions describing the perfect, strong woman. Many of these views are conflicting with each other and when reviewing these we often realize that standards are just unrealistic. On one hand women are expected to be caring, to show empathy and to have a certain (soft) appearance. On the other hand, it is often believed that a strong woman is:
- Someone who does not cry – or show similar types of ‘negative’ feelings
- Someone who is fit, but is not ‘too muscular’ and still maintains a curvy body figure
- Someone who stays at home in order to take care of the household, but who is very independent from a salary point of view
However, the reality is that people will always have something to say, whenever they want to talk about someone else. So what is the point of trying to meet expectations set by others, if it does not make you happy? Why are many of us trying to meet the beauty ideals set by online magazines, while they often photo shop models in order to meet these unrealistic beauty ideals themselves? What truly defines a strong woman?
When I lost my job last year, many thought that I wasn’t allowed to cry. A few weeks later, I was feeling hurt and when I shared this feeling it was indicated that I should get over it. I was expected to be positive continuously and whenever I would get sad and overwhelmed, the majority of the perceivers quickly put their fingers in their ears. Regardless of how bad I felt, I continued working somewhere else, even though I just wanted to process the loss. The day after I started my new position, I collapsed at the gym and could not help but let the feelings loose. I was speaking to a beloved one on the phone in order to ask for support. The response I received was “Are you seriously crying in public? You should be happy that you have a job, stop complaining.” At that point, I decided to share my feelings less with others and turn my complaints into action plans. I was sending approximately 10 job applications a day and started applying for positions I was not interested in. I decided to hide my emotions, since I felt that I was being weak. When I finally found a job I loved, I realized that I did not bother to share my happiness regarding the invitation for this job interview. At this point, I was trying to achieve the wrong expectations. I would be strong if I invested a little time in my search for someone I can talk to. It would be much easier for me to listen to my own needs rather than listening to people who have no idea what I have been going through, and at the end I would be happier.
In my view, a strong woman is someone who has a realistic viewpoint on life. She knows that it is ok to share all feelings she is experiencing: both the negative and positive ones, because this is a way for her to grow. A strong woman is someone who does what she wants, because those are the things she loves. She finds her strength in the goals she has set and finds a way to meet those goals, regardless of how often she falls and need to stand up again. She is someone who dares to ask for help and/or a listener whenever she reaches rock bottom. A strong woman is someone who acknowledges her weaknesses and marks these as points of improvements. She admits that she is not perfect, but she knows that her imperfections are her drive to achieve the level of satisfaction. At the end she wants to be happy, because she met her goals.
How do you feel about the stereotypes of a strong woman? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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